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But Other Than That, the CIA Has Been Very Cooperative With SSCI’s Investigation

Senator Feinstein’s bill of particulars against the CIA, set forth in her speech this morning:

Between 2002 and 2006, the CIA failed to brief the Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, other than the Chairman and Vice Chairman, regarding its detention and interrogation program.

In 2007 the CIA destroyed videotapes, over the objections of White House Counsel and the DNI, of certain enhanced interrogations.

In early 2009, SSCI staffers provided an initial report indicating that “[t]he interrogations and conditions of confinement at the CIA detention sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us.”

After SSCI initiated a full investigation, SSCI agreed, at the request of then- CIA Director Panetta, that it would review CIA documents relevant to its investigation at a secure CIA facility in Northern Virginia. A process was agreed to under which SSCI would be provided with a “stand-alone computer system” that would not be accessed by CIA personnel, other than IT, without SSCI’s permission.

The CIA sent up a laborious and expensive document review process under which every responsive document was reviewed by outside contractors to make sure that SSCI did not receive documents that were either beyond the scope of its requests or potentially subject to a claim of executive privilege.

Beginning in mid-2009, the CIA began producing documents, eventually running into millions of pages, without index or organizational structure, a “document dump.”

SSCI asked the CIA to provide an electronic search tool so it could sort through these documents.  The CIA provided this tool, and SSCI staff used it to identify important documents, which they would then print out or copy to a separate folder on the computer. Eventually the staff identified thousands of such documents in the committee’s secure space at the CIA facility.

In May 2010, SSCI staff noticed that certain documents that had previously been made available for their review were no longer accessible on the SSCI computer at the CIA facility. It later turned out that CIA personnel, without the knowledge or approval of SSCI, had removed 870 documents or pages of documents in February 2010 and another 50 in May 2010. These actions violated the written agreements between SSCI and the CIA and represented the exact sort of CIA interference in the investigation that SSCI had sought to avoid at the outset.

When confronted by SSCI staff, CIA personnel first blamed IT contractors. Then the CIA stated that the removal of the documents was ordered by the White House. This claim was denied by the White House.

The White House Counsel and the CIA gave Senator Feinstein a renewed commitment that there would no further unauthorized access to the committee’s network or removal of CIA documents already provided to the committee. On May 17, 2010, the CIA director of congressional affairs apologized on behalf of the CIA for the removal of the documents.

Sometime during 2010, SSCI staff located draft versions of the “Internal Panetta Review” among the documents made available to the committee at the CIA facility. These documents reached the same conclusions as the committee did with regard to certain “troubling matters” uncovered in its investigation. These documents were identified by SSCI staff as important and were printed out and electronically copied in accordance with their normal practice.

Some, though not all, of the IPR documents were marked as “deliberative” or “privileged.” This was not considered noteworthy because many documents provided to SSCI by the CIA have such markings. Senate Legal Counsel has also advised that these claims of privilege are not recognized by Congress.

Sometime after SSCI staff identified and reviewed the IPR documents, most likely in 2010, the CIA removed access to the vast majority of them. This violated both the CIA’s initial agreements and later assurances by the White House and the CIA that there would be no further removal of documents.

In December 2012, SSCI produced a 6,300 page study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and sent it to the CIA for comment.

On July 27, 2013, the CIA provided SSCI with its response. Although the CIA agreed with some parts of the SSCI study, it disagrees with and disputes important parts of it. Importantly, “[s]ome of these important parts that the CIA now disputes in our committee study are clearly acknowledged in the CIA’s own Internal Panetta Review.”

After noting the disparity between the official CIA response and the draft IPR, SSCI staff “securely transported a printed portion of the draft Internal Panetta Review from the committee’s secure room at the CIA-leased facility to the secure committee spaces in the Hart Senate Office Building.” This complied with the spirit (if not the letter) of SSCI’s agreements with the CIA because SSCI redacted from these documents the kind of information (names of CIA non-supervisory personnel and names of specific countries in which CIA detention sites were operated) that the CIA was trying to protect. There is no legal prohibition against what SSCI staff did.

Given the CIA’s past practice of removing or destroying information related to the detention and interrogation program, “there was a need to preserve and protect the Internal Panetta Review in the committee’s own secure spaces.”

In late 2013, Senator Feinstein requested a final and complete version of the IPR be provided to the committee. In early 2014, the CIA refused this request, citing the deliberative nature of the document.

On January 15, 2014, CIA Director Brennan informed Chairman Feinstein and Vice Chairman Chambliss that, without prior notification or approval, the CIA had conducted a search of the SSCI computers at the CIA facility. This search was conducted in response to indications that SSCI staff had already obtained access to the IPR. The CIA did not, either prior to the search or thereafter, ask SSCI how it acquired information regarding the IPR. Despite this, someone has made anonymous allegations in the press “that the committee staff had somehow obtained the document through unauthorized or criminal means, perhaps to include hacking into the CIA’s computer network.”

On January 17, 2014, Senator Feinstein wrote to Director Brennan objecting to any further CIA investigation regarding the activities of SSCI staff due to separation of powers concerns about the search and any further investigation. She followed up with a letter on January 23 asking 12 specific questions about the CIA’s actions. The CIA has refused to answer these questions.

Senator Feinstein believes that the CIA’s search may well have violated basic separation of powers principles, the Speech or Debate Clause and the Fourth Amendment, as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance. Senator Feinstein has demanded an apology from the CIA and a recognition that the search was inappropriate. She has received neither.

The CIA Inspector General has initiated an investigation of the CIA search and has referred the matter to the Department of Justice for possible criminal investigation.

Senator Feinstein has also learned that the CIA’s acting General Counsel has “filed a crimes report with the Department of Justice concerning the committee’s staff actions.” This apparently took place after the IG made his referral to the Justice Department. Senator Feinstein believes that there is no legitimate reason for the acting General Counsel (who she notes was heavily involved in the activities covered by the committee’s study of the detention and interrogation program) to have taken this action. She “view[s] the acting general counsel’s referral as a potential effort to intimidate this staff.”

She says “this individual is sending a crimes report to the Department of Justice on the actions of congressional staff—the same congressional staff who researched and drafted a report that details how CIA officers—including the acting general counsel himself—provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice about the program.”

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